News and events News Caring during Covid - Carers' Week 2021 7th June 2021 It’s Carers' Week. A chance for all of us to make the lives and role of unpaid carers visible across the UK and highlight the hidden trials that many people go through when a loved one is unwell, especially during the pandemic. More than 1 in 8 adults in the UK care for a family member or friend, whether that’s because they have a disability, physical health issues, mental health problems or an addiction. We know that when someone has an addiction it affects the whole family – your loved one’s suffering leads to your own, it can cause breakdowns in relationships and, worst of all, it can be a source of shame that you aren’t prepared to let other people know about. This can cause family and carers to become more isolated and atomised from society, which makes the problem so much worse. Not all of us have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like being in this position, so we asked members of our family and carer’s group to tell us their experiences and to give advice to anyone who might be in their position. Caring is painful but you’re not alone “It’s really really tough and it feels as though you are walking on eggshells or on a roller coaster that you can never get off. The pain is intense. One of the most helpful things I did was go into therapy myself. I too needed to heal. We didn't cause this, and we certainly don't deserve it. Being there for each other is vital. We are, after all, all on the same rocky boat.” “The other clients in The Living Room really inspired me by proving that there are successful ways of coping with the impact of addiction on our lives. This can happen to people in many different circumstances and that it is not caused by the spouse or family and that they should rise above the blame, deflection and projection put towards them. It is also inspiring to see that we are not alone. The other clients have also helped by advising different ways of coping and have inspired me to be much stronger and focus on myself and my children, my boundaries and my strength while my husband continues to recover.” Don’t feel guilt or shame if you need help “It’s not your fault, you didn’t cause it, can’t control it or cure it. Reclaim your life before it’s too late.” “Stepping back emotionally is difficult, essential, and needs other's support.” You may not see yourself as a Carer "Often people who live with someone with an addiction don’t see themselves as carers. Whether they are a spouse, parent or sibling, they just see it as their natural role to look after and try and help ‘fix’ the addict in their life and ignore the toll it has on their own health and wellbeing. The Living Room helps family and carers turn the focus on themselves and to learn and appreciate self-care." Enabling isn’t helping “Don’t hide the consequences. Let them see the effects of their behaviour - don’t cover up for them.” Looking after yourself is vital “Make your life worth living and spend limited time worrying about others, as you can become ill.” “Value yourself more.” You can still love and support someone with an addiction “I'd say to a mum who’s struggling with a child’s addiction: ‘Never give up, hold on, try to say some more positive words to your child, always validate them.’” Covid doesn’t have to stop you getting help “I am and will remain indebted to the initial support and caring empathy shown by The Living Room staff when I first got in contact at a desperate and highly emotional and stressful point in my life after discovering my husband’s addiction. The staff were quick to respond and set up access for me into the group alongside helping me with reassurance and guidance for what I was going through which I desperately needed at that time. The staff have been consistent in their help and guidance and caring towards my individual situation and the clients and the ability to share, plus the structure of the meetings, has been a highly successful forum to enable me to move forward with my life. The meetings have made me feel like I’m not alone and helped me understand methods to deal with the impact of addiction in a much more positive manner.” “It would of course be nice to meet face to face but the zoom quality and the quality of engagement over the video call is excellent, so I have felt like we are together even though we are not physically.” We’re here to help carers break free from the despair they can slip into and build healthier relationships with their loved ones, so reaching out to more people is very important to us – if any of the experiences you’ve just read have affected you, don’t brush it off, don’t wait. Pick up the phone and give us a call on 0300 365 0304. Our friends over at Carers in Herts can also support you with everything from one-to-one support over the phone, groups and workshops, getting discounts with their Carer’s Passport, how to prepare for a Carer’s Assessment, to helping you get involved in improving addiction services. Visit their website for more information or call 01992 58 69 69.